Saturday, August 16, 2008
this is the mama bear that lives out in the open space behind the house. well, in the thick of trees really. i've spotted her three times now, twice alone and once with her two cubs. she lives out near the fort, which is, needless to say, off limits for a while. unless dad is with the kids, we need to respect her space. we've heard from neighbors that she'll get more bold and head up into our front yard to the crabapple tree. usually in october. but with the drought here this year, the dept. of wildlife says probably earlier. i keep thinking we'll be heading out to the hospital in labor in early october and be stuck 'cause she's sitting on the porch munching.
this is a video from this past summer that i just figured out how to download. another mom recognized ethan up there and took this for us. ethan and olivia took part in an arts camp at our church. the last night they had a performance that included hundreds of kids role playing. they could choose a "role" themselves and the leaders brilliantly put it all together. the very last scene was ethan and his buddies representing each branch of the military. they got quite an applause from the crowd. a proud moment for ethan and for us.
olivia was there too, but in a behind the scenes art role. she produced lots of artwork that hung in the "gallery" including an awesome dog painting that's going in our dog/cat kids' bathroom. the night was capped off with cream puffs and coffee for the parents. then we got to carry out flower pots filled with perennials to plant somewhere in the yard as a permanent reminder of what they learned. that God's fingerprints are all over and they were made to leave a fingerprint on the earth as his kids.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
oops. forgot one of the things that was actually music to my ears. the teachers are discouraged for giving out trinkity gifts or candy for learning success. they are encouraged to build personal relationships with each of their students and let their individual successes really register between the student and teacher. the thought is that when children learn that if they do (a) they'll get (b), they won't be too inspired to complete a task if a reward isn't involved.
garbage dumps all over america are less full of oriental trading co. crap thanks to philosophies like this one.
there are sometimes in your life, lots of times actually, when you have to go against the grain, swim upstream, be one of those kids from sesame street "doing their own thing". set yourself apart. it's never easy and can be really isolating. it can even make you second guess why it is that you just can't go along with group, live less intently, just blend.
but i'm firmly convinced that when you stand up to the status quo, that isn't working in the first place, amazing things happen. most of the time, i think we just traverse through life following the others in front of us almost in a coma like state, just assuming that their way works and that it's the best way. i have never been more conscious of this unconscious state of living than now.
i am passionate about my children's education. i'm passionate about how their worldviews are shaped and what lenses they look at the world and others through. i'm passionate about where they spend 7 or so hours a day outside of this home. i am passionate about the fruit and lack of fruit i see produced from the system we have just assumed works.
kids are less motivated than ever, more obese, more stressed and unhappier than they ever have been. of course, the majority of this has to do with their parents and home life. but let's face it. our education system is, for the most part, barring any really cutting edge philosophy, just "fine". not spectacular. not inspiring. not really set apart. we send our kids off without really thinking outside the box.
of course, there are those educators that know this system has to change. we're being constantly surpassed by other countries and cultures, as if that's a gauge that we should initiate change by. but there's something to the fact that we are way behind in rethinking our children's education. we are hearing more and more of charter schools, with specifically defined philosophies that are changing the face of education. more and more resources for people choosing to do part-time cottage schools that are centered around the idea that children learn best in the home. and of course, homeschooling is growing leaps and bounds each year.
we have been on a 7,000 student waiting list for a public charter school for some time now and have just received word that we're in. olivia this year, the boys the following. and the younger ones are guaranteed a spot in the future. it is a school that is based on building virtuous character through educational excellence. they use the trivium approach of classical learning: grammar, logic and rhetoric, each developed through a core curriculum. the kids read socrates! they debate! they have intertwined the trivium with a charlotte mason style atmosphere that is characterized by hands on learning. they read what are called "living books", that is the classics, not popular fiction in the classroom. they take latin from the 5th grade on, foreign languages, celebrate the arts, are encouraged to work on spiritual development during the ever respected family time and have minimal homework ('cause they get done what they need to get done during their "work" day).
liv will be repeating kindergarten because the cut off for this school is much later than the regular district schools. she only made it by 15 days in the regular district. i knew instinctively i should hold her back. she does not have the same confidence the boys had going in. she is more indecisive and tentative, but this settles that issue. we are thrilled she'll be solid in knowledge and confidence for her first grade year. and get this! they actually don't believe in all day kindergarten. only half day. that's almost unheard of nowadays. we (and audge) are so happy to have her home.
the school is half the size, has half the class sizes, twice the teacher ratio and because it's a district school it has all the same opportunities plus more: chess club (not in our regular school), fellowship of christian athletes (definitely not in our regular school), golf (not in our regular school). they start later in august, they end the same time in may, they've been rated the #5 high school in colorado. it is an answer to prayer. we know several other families there, have talked their ears off and have been really happy with what we've heard. opinions/advice/counseling-it's all the more valuable when based on true experience and life wisdom.
so, i'll be driving more. and that means a time committment. and dragging two little ones with me. but i do my best to be as green as i can in other areas, so i hope you'll forgive my increased use of fuel. i'd drive the world over to see my children spend so much of their childhood in an atmosphere like this. it does mean more change for the boys later on, but i have faith that this is the place for them to excel and flourish. to be that kid doing their own thing.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
today was one of our last summer day outings. school starts one week from today. early but then we're out early in return. so, we headed out to the rock ledge ranch historic site set in the shadows of garden of the gods. an amazing place and an amazing day together.
rock ledge ranch is a 200-acre city park actually that was built by the chambers' family, a wealthy farming family that migrated here from pennsylvania. it was later purchased by palmer, the man who founded colorado springs. in his will, he donated the garden of the gods
to colorado springs, stating that it shall always remain a free city park.
the docents and interpreters are all in period clothing and are going about their day as the early inhabitants would have. you really feel like you've gone back in time and are experiencing life in the 1880's. actually, there is an american indian site from the 1770's, a homestead cabin from 1860 (marcus and my favorite), a working farm and restored original chambers' home from 1880, a restored 1907 home that palmer lived in, a blacksmith shop, a store with .15 old fashioned candy sticks flavored with sassafrass, a barn, ponds, gardens.
the kids were mesmerized by the way things were done then, what the kids had and what they didn't have. the animals were all quite friendly, including an amazing cow named patches. she actually leaned into you wanting a good scratch on her head. the docents were baking in each of the various homes using only real ingredients that could have been acquired at the time: corn bread, cream puffs, stew, pork roast, gingerbread. it smelled heavenly!
the weather was unusually cool and rainy, just adding to the mystique. walking into a dim building with just candlelight or no light at all. makes me thankful but a little disappointed we have light switches. i was struck by the need to do and have only that which is necessary. not lots of extras or distractions. just the basics. how refreshing that is in a world filled with so much that seems like such a complicated waste.
all in all it was a great outing. audrey kind of lost it inside the orchard house, way past nap time. so, she and i headed out while the others finished the tour to sit on the front porch, stare at garden of the gods right in front of us and listen to coyotes howl. other than the coyotes, it was so quiet that we heard the wings of a hummingbird and the soft rain hitting the porch roof. we both almost fell asleep. it costs $20 for a family for a year's membership. needless to say, we'll be joining and heading back. back to enjoy a taste of the simple life.